coop size question


In the Brooder
9 Years
Aug 31, 2010
North central PA
I have read about the 4 sq ft per chicken information a few times. Are the nesting boxes included in the calculation for a coop size? I have 6 growing hens and one rooster. I am hurrying to finish buidling their coop at this moment. They are just over 4 weeks old. I am a few sq. ft (about 5) short if the nesting boxes should not be calculated and will be well within the range if nesting boxes are used to calculate square footage. Am I in trouble?
The 4 sq' rule of thumb is only approximate and really refers to the amount of floor space. Will your boxes be elevated above the floor? If so, then perhaps it's not so much of an issue. How much run space will they have? Will they be spending most of their time in the coop this winter? That might be more problematic. Perhaps your fellow northerners will chime in with advice. BTW,
There is really nothing magic about 4 sq ft per chicken indoors. Personally I think it is grossly inadequate in terms of allowing chickens to behave reasonably comfortably and naturally, if you are in a climate where they will EVER want to spend much of the day indoors; OTOH you can still most often get away with it in terms of avoiding outright cannibalism.

Conversely if you are in a climate where they will truly spend all day EVERY day outdoors -- such as Hawaii, or parts of the Southern US with ample large areas of shade available to the chickens -- then really all you need is enough linear roost space for them at night and "4 sq ft per" may be overkill.

Personally, where you live, I would not feel good about giving them that little indoor space, although if you are fortunate you will be able to get away with it without too much pecking etc; but if you can have fewer chickens or give them a larger enclosed-in-wintertime space, it'd sure be a good thing.

If the nestboxes are high enough above the floor for chickens to walk under them, then they do not subtract from overall square footage. If they are ON the floor, then yes they do, pretty much.

But you know there is nothing magic about a few sq ft in the grand scheme of things. Do what you can, but chickens do not care much if they have 3.8 sq ft or 4.2 sq ft apiece. What DOES visibly affect their behavior, to a considerable extent, is the difference between (say) 4 sq ft apiece versus 8 sq ft apiece, or 15 sq ft apiece.

If you can roof (in a snow-load-proof way!!!) their run and enclose it on 3 or 3 1/2 sides with clear plastic, for wintertime, that will help somewhat.

Good luck, have fun,

I have 26 Rocks in a 10x10 so I'm 1 over the suggested footage. No big deal as far as the birds are concerned. The run is 10x30 and they free range from 12:00PM till they mosey back into the coop. It will be the same when winter comes. Did the same with RIRs and Barred Rocks when I had birds before and never had any problems with fighting, pecking or any other bad behavior. They aren't all that affected by cold and seem to go about their chicken business day in and day out.
My nest boxes are essentially the same height - just a 2x4 higher than the floor base - so no space underneath. I also have a roost bar across the coop and beneath that I am building a a screened tray I saw photos of for easy removal of the the waste/litter. Because of the roost bar above does that even out the lost space of the tray below or do I deduct that space also from my useable space? I am building an 8x20 run but I have no means of a roof enclosure at this time and in November, I would think none of them would want to be outdoors at night anyway.

I built my coop based on the photos of this coop Because the photos had a modular look I took the same approach in building and assembling sections. My run will not compare however.

Althought I built the poop tray to be used at the bottom I could seal off the bottom side hole for pulling out the tray and put the roosts and tray higher thus giving a 18" x 5' space underneath if someone things that would be a worthwhile gain. Any additional thoughts are appreciated.
If your screened poop tray sits on the floor, then I would not count it as useable floor space myself, because I wouldn't want my chickens walking around on it, and you can't put bedding on it for them to scratch around in it... If you're able, then TO ME it would be worth raising that part of your set-up so that they CAN use that floorspace. But I'm one of those people who gives their chickens quite a bit more than 4 sq. ft. per chicken. Unlike a previous poster, my birds DID spend quite a bit of time indoors last winter, and I can't imagine dealing with that in a really small space. Of course my area got quite a bit of snow, maybe that person's area didn't, and maybe your area doesn't. I haven't read a single post about chickens liking snow; they avoid it typically. For folks who freerange, the chickens can generally fly to an area that's somewhat sheltered, so that may make a difference. Is there any way you can elevate your nest boxes???
There is no practical way I can raise the nest boxes because of how the coop was built. I'd have to build an additon and I can't really do that now. It looks like I need to raise the roost bar and the poop tray to give space underneath unless someone has a bright idea i have not thought of.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom